2013-14 A.S. Council Endorsements

 

By signing on to TritonLink, you can vote for next year’s class of student leaders, who are promising to do everything from lowering tuition to making UCSD less socially dead. If you know nothing about the candidates running or are not election-saavy in general, we advise you to follow our guide when voting this week. Over the course of five days (and twice as many cans of Red Bull), we grilled all five presidential candidates, all 12 vice-presidential candidates and 25 of the 27 campuswide senatorial candidates running this year. Two senatorial candidates were unable to meet with us due to time conflicts. We based our endorsements on the following criteria: thorough knowledge of the subject matter relevant to their job, relevant experience in or out of A.S. Council and — most importantly — concrete and workable ideas for improving student life this upcoming year.

President: Sammy Chang – One Voice

At a pivotal moment for our university, Sammy Chang knows what challenges lie ahead for this campus, and he knows how to fix them.

It would probably be easier to name all the positions that Chang has not held during his illustrious student government career at UCSD. From his freshman year on Warren College Student Council’s Judicial Board and Finance Committee, to his most recent tenure as associate vice president of academic affairs, Chang has shown a repeated investment in going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the best college experience for his peers.

Valuable experience as chair of the Sports Facilities Advisory Board and vice chair of the Student Fee Advisory Committee gives Chang the unique resume of having worked under all three vice presidential departments. Chang has held over 10 positions in Earl Warren College, WCSC and countless other executive and advisory boards around campus.

Chang has also involved himself in WCSC-specific and campuswide issues throughout his entire college career. He presented nine times in front of A.S. Council on behalf of a variety of campuswide and UC systemwide issues.

Chang has noticed serious monetary and procedural issues with council this year. Chang fought hard to keep A.S. Council’s undergraduate research grants well-funded despite plans by other councilmembers to cut those budgets. Chang laments this year’s cuts to student organization’s operation funds (which cut the baseline amount of money A.S. Council gives to student organizations by 80 percent) and will work to restore this funding.

Perhaps Chang’s most notable gesture was declining a stipend for his position as the associated vice president of academic affairs — which he did in order to fund his entire staff. Chang, as has the rest of his slate, pledged to do the same with his stipend next year.

One Voice’s plans to enact legislation against all A.S. councilmembers receiving stipends have come under fire in recent weeks, with critics calling the slate “elitist” or a slate for “rich kids.” Chang himself is partially funded by the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, and before qualifying for the program, he had to work to pay his way through school in his junior year. A commuter from Carmel Valley, Chang says that the idea that his slate is in any way “elitist” is a complete myth, explaining that most of his slate is on financial aid and that of the $100,000 that Council would save on stipends, $15,000 would be set aside and pooled and allotted to low-income individuals who want to become a part of A.S. Council.

Chang and his slate One Voice are pledging to tackle A.S. Council’s internal budget problems within their first five weeks in office. The slate’s 35-day plan includes provisions to reject their council stipends, pump up funding for research grants, hold at least one outreach and community event per week and create four new undersecretary positions, as well as work to allot 60 percent of available A.S. funding to student organizations.

Chang’s vast experience and demonstrated commitment to enhancing student life makes him a strong candidate and leader for this campus. We wholeheartedly support Sammy Chang, an expert on campus life and its history and a veteran leader who knows the ins and outs on A.S. Council, for A.S. President.

Vice President of Student Life: Leonard Bobbitt – UNITED

When Leonard Bobbitt arrived for his interview, he was literally bobbing up and down with ideas. He could graduate after this year, but is staying for a fifth year due in part to his desire to make changes on campus before he leaves. We have no doubt that he is the right person to elevate student life to the next level.

From serving three years as the associated vice president of college affairs and restructuring First Year Council, to fighting for the student voice on UCAB and programming events for Earl Warren College, Bobbitt has experience flying out of his ears. He wants to get rid of the supposed winter quarter lull by spearheading the creation of a winter festival, which will be great for students who impatiently wait all year round for Sun God. Bobbitt also hopes to reform Founders’ Day into an all-day community event reminiscent of UC Davis’ Picnic Day. He is a champion of event sustainability and will push for bio-fueled, zero-emission festivals.

Bobbitt is especially big on connecting communities across campus. He seeks to foster a more LGBT-friendly environment by making it easier for students to obtain coed housing and instituting more gender-neutral bathrooms across campus. He also wants to make it easier for students to learn about hard-to-find events across campus by creating a searchable all-campus events calendar. Among many other ideas to unify our campus, he seeks to bridge the gap between A.S. Council and students through tabling every week, podcasting meetings and allowing students to submit legislation to committees.

Bobbitt’s goals are grounded in tangible plans, and we are confident that he is by far the strongest candidate for this position.

Vice President of Finance and Resources: Sean O’Neal – Keep it REAL

Keep it Real candidate Sean O’Neal is just that: real. The clear frontrunner for the position of vice president of finance is a junior biophysics and economics double major and is fluent in the language of finance. He is rightfully next in line for the position after serving as the chief of staff of the A.S. Finance Office under current VPF Bryan Cassella. He already has a thorough understanding of the A.S. budget, but his institutional knowledge of the subject hasn’t blindsided him. He is extremely critical of the current financial state and sees room for significant change and innovation. His perception of the budget is realistic, but it’s his concrete list of new goals that garnered our attention.

O’Neal’s goals are many. Some are lofty and longterm, such as laying down the groundwork for A.S. Council to become a non-profit organization within the next 15 years. O’Neal wants council to become completely sustainable from student fees by seeking alternative sources of revenue, such as Triton Outfitters, which is a part of A.S. Enterprises. He wants to create a smartphone/web app that accessibly lists all UCSD events and meetings to increase student involvement. But it’s his goal to effectively add more student representation to fee-based committees that really got our attention. 

O’Neal has no interest at throwing money at problems. He wants to make an internal change within the A.S. budget in order to receive concrete external results that students can see. Additionally, O’Neal wants to have monthly meetings with all of the treasurers or financial heads of all student organizations to keep orgs in the know throughout the year to increase financial transparency. His experience and ideas make it clear that he’s the guy to trust with the less than stellar budget that A.S. Council is working with now. After working in the A.S. Office of Finance and the Muir College Council for two years, the only logical next step for the talented and logical O’Neal is sitting on A.S. Council as a voting member.

Vice President of External Affairs: Vanessa Garcia – Triton’s Choice

Ask Vanessa Garcia a single question, and she’ll give you the answers to five more. She knows the ins and outs of the major campus issues and sees how they’re all related. It’s clear to her what affects students day to day and how to fix the administrative mess.

Garcia is as capable and as qualified for the position of vice president of external affairs as she is knowledgeable. Experience on the Student Sustainability Collective as well as social justice education efforts through the Women’s Center helped the Triton’s Choice candidate develop the new associated vice president position. Her work as a delegate on the UC Student Association gives her an edge in her hopes of using the vice president of external affairs position to advocate for students on a statewide and national level.

Garcia has already demonstrated a history of holding UCSD administrators accountable for sticking to promises — she successfully pushed the university to host a sustainability town hall in May. Opposed to most fee increases, Garcia supports the UCEN referendum for its role in maintaining student activities and reopening the Crafts Center. Garcia says she’ll work with administrators and alumni to find other ways to fund Division I — including a plan to increase Cal Grants to help fund student athletes.

Garcia also shows proficiency in her ability to reach out to diverse communities as a Revelle College resident advisor, philanthropy chair of UCSD’s Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and a member of the La Jolla Community Planning Association. Her existing connections with members of the Graduate Student Association will help ease communication and collaboration between the two bodies.

Lauding SOVAC voter registration efforts leading up to the November 2012 election, Garcia called Proposition 30 a “temporary fix to a permanent problem. She will work to engage potential voters even in a non-election year.

Garcia has the experience and the drive to be a successful motivator and leader for our campus. 

Campuswide Senators

With eight spaces open every year, the campuswide senator position is a major route for newer leaders to get into A.S. Council. This year’s competition was challenging, with 27 candidates running for the job. Campuswide senators ran on five slates: One Voice, Triton’s Choice, UNITED, Keep it REAL and FLOW with the FENG. We didn’t pick candidates based on their slate platforms — rather, we picked the individuals we thought best reflected student values and progress for our university. Due to scheduling conflicts, Lewis Simon (One Voice) and Jacob Thater (FLOW with the FENG) respectfully declined to be interviewed.

Guy Elezra – UNITED

Guy Elezra of the United slate has quite a bit of leadership experience in both student government and the Greek community. Elezra is currently both A.S. Council’s Revelle College senator, and the president of Alpha Epsilon Pi. He has innovative ideas to increase cooperation between A.S. Council and Greek organizations, such as giving chapters the ability to order letters directly from Triton Outfitters. Elezra sees the A.S. bubble as a serious problem preventing effective government, and he wants to encourage student involvement through SOVAC’s OVAL and by regularly reaching out to college councils.

Avanthi Hulugalle – UNITED

As a junior hoping to bring efficient leadership and new blood to council, United slate member Avanthi Hulugalle has a new perspective to bring to the table with projects including redesigning the A.S. website and bettering the relationship between A.S. Council and student organizations. Hulugalle is a force to be reckoned with, having outside leadership experience as president of Chi Omega and chairperson of the Health and Medical Professions Preparation Program. She will bring innovative solutions by focusing on student participation and compromise.

Jordan Coburn – Keep it REAL

Jordan Coburn of Keep It REAL has an activist spirit with ideas to further involve students and student groups. Coburn is also a fan of using SOVAC’s OVAL to gauge student input on council issues. If elected, she will emphasize education and transparency with more town hall meetings and student loan debt workshops to educate students on their options. Currently chief of staff for the A.S. Office of External Affairs and a former UCSD delegate to the United States Student Association Congress, Coburn will channel her considerable leadership experience into a new role if elected campuswide senator.

Fifi Akel – Keep it REAL

Fifi Akel of the Keep it REAL slate holds the concerns of commuters at the forefront, and hopes to foster integration and communication on campus. Akel is a very well-spoken and practical candidate with concrete knowledge on various important issues including divestment, UCEN referenda and transportation. As a commuter and a candidate outside of the A.S. bubble, Akel seems to most accurately represent the true needs of students. She hopes to make strides in transparency by increasing the number of town hall meetings, and possesses clear goals to build bridges and connect communities.

Brianna Nelson – Triton’s Choice

Brianna Nelson of Triton’s Choice began her stint in student government as part of the Thurgood Marshall college council. She is currently serving as its director of administration, as well as the policy director for the A.S. Office of the President. With her insight into A.S. Council, Nelson has already had experience with hot-button issues like divestment and transportation. As a member of SOVAC, she has a keen interest in increasing the exposure of A.S. Council and campus resources to all students. Nelson hopes to develop an open source textbook program to help students with rising textbook costs, and wants to design a streamlined website to increase campus communication and cohesiveness.

Allyson Osorio – Triton’s Choice

Allyson Osorio is a clear choice for campuswide senator from the Triton’s Choice slate. While she has never served on council before, she has worked in the A.S. Office of the President and the Office of Diversity Affairs, giving her an inside perspective on council. She understands the importance of our campus climate and has worked with Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue’s diversity committee to create solutions for students’ campus issues. Osorio also wants to create a space for students to voice their opinions about A.S. Council, particularly through office hours and other interpersonal means.

Vincent Honrubia – One Voice

One Voice’s Vincent Honrubia is a strong advocate for the diverse groups on campus. He wants A.S. Council to focus on issues that are important to the student experience, such as funding for student organizations. He believes in his slate’s platform that up to 60 percent of A.S. Council’s budget should be spent on students who are involved with campus organizations, and like the other members of his slate, he will not take a stipend for himself. Expressing strong support for the Greek, military and athletic communities, Honrubia can go far with his platform of transparency and unity.

Dan Ovadia – One Voice

A self-described idealist and inquisitor, One Voice candidate Dan Ovadia hopes to lead a grassroots spirit campaign and revamp A.S. from the bottom up, with intentions to increase student creativity and establish a student think tank. He has set himself apart with his goal to put Housing, Dining, and Hospitality Services under the microscope, promising to reform the system and expose HDH cooking practices and pricing to all students. Ovadia plans to support and increase the readership of UCSD media outlets through a more integrated phone application. An Eagle Scout with experience in tutoring and campaign volunteering, Ovadia has potential to be an effective leader as a campuswide senator.

UCEN Referendum: YES

Price Center, Student Center and the Che Cafe are deteriorating: The paint is chipping, the balconies are creaking and the insulation is leaky. And for the first time since it opened 40 years ago, the Crafts Center was closed for the 2012–2013 academic year. Many A.S. councilmembers want to raise student fees by $33 per year — that’s about a dollar per student every week — to keep four of UCSD’s best-known activity centers from falling through the cracks.

The measure would increase students’ mandatory University Centers fee from about $230 to $260 per year. Vendors and A.S. representatives report they aren’t sure how renovations will be financed if the UCEN referendum doesn’t pass, but they do agree that the renovations in question are necessary. This means that if the UCEN referendum does not pass, rent — and, therefore, prices — will increase at student center shops and restaurants.

One way or another, students, who are the University Centers’ primary users, will have to pay for the renovations that will be made in coming years. We think a simple fee increase up front is better than dozens of small markups in prices.